Rosa Parks is quoted to have said: “Stand for something or you will fall for anything. Today’s mighty oak is yesterday’s nut that held its ground.”
This saying is especially apt today, as I found myself being cyber-stalked and harassed by a relative of someone close to me. It is never a pleasant feeling to be trolled, no matter what the situation, but it is certainly the most painful when your dignity and honor is not defended by the person you trusted to do so. The fact that Rosa Parks defended her own position, not wanting to give up her seat on the bus for a white man, despite the social expectation during the time to, is something that I can relate to even in today’s fast changing world.
Being an Asian woman in America, even in one of the most diversity-friendly states, Washington, I have experienced racism in some of it’s many incarnations. From being a target for racially-charged obscenities yelled at by a drunk stranger at a bar and having no one in the establishment help me (not even the waitstaff), to being called one of the many colorful ethnic slurs, to the most recent incident of being harassed and not having my loved one stand up for me. It is more than the need for protection that I expect from spectators, it is a sense of human decency and the conviction that racism is wrong.
It comes as a constant horrifying surprise every time I experience this type of injustice, especially in our modern world. It is times like these that I summon Rosa in my heart, and stand my ground when I know I have done nothing to deserve this kind of treatment. I defend myself, with words as my sword and if needed, pepper spray and a cell phone with 911 on speed dial as my steed.
It is oftentimes a lonely position standing up for what is right. The common man will usually sit idly by witnessing acts of injustice yet keeping his head down to avoid personal conflict. Perhaps this is just a trait of human nature’s survival instinct, or maybe the people I have encountered were cowards. I don’t know. But I’d like to think that there are more people like Rosa and myself in this world, where we will not be bullied into unjustly giving up our seats.
Know your rights.